Tuesday, May 13, 2008

soleil for a day

1. cirque love

Since starting gymnastics at age five—or at least since reading Geek Love in college—I’ve wanted to run away and join the circus. Actually, the problem was that I wanted to join the circus but I didn’t want to run away.

How fortunate, then, that AK found out about Cirque School, where you can learn the trapeze arts without ever leaving L.A. She gave me a class for my birthday, which I finally redeemed last night (after reading up on it, I decided it sounded kind of hardcore, and that I needed to build up some flexibility and upper body strength before going—I’m not sure that happened, but a month passed, I was a little closer to reuniting with my left splits and I was itching to take the class).

The classes are held at Absolution L.A., a small West Hollywood studio walled with honey-colored wood and stocked with pilates machines, trapezes, a climbing wall, red vinyl chairs and other items of expensive-looking furniture. It reminded me, I told AK later, that there is a world beyond 24 Hour Fitness, which has thus far seemed fairly glamorous to me as it represents the world beyond Bally Total Fitness.

Unlike at 24 Hour Fitness, where no one much notices if you fall off a treadmill and rip your kneecaps off, at Cirque School everyone immediately introduced themselves and told me how much fun I was about to have.

And they were right: Soon I was flipping upside down on the stationary trapeze and doing poses with names like “Gazelle” and “Mermaid.” I felt like a gazelle and a mermaid: graceful, strong and slightly exotic.

“You have good body awareness,” said Aloysia, one of the instructors.

She meant, I think, that if someone tells me to extend my leg, I can extend my leg. I know where I’m putting myself, a skill endowed by much gymnastics and dance early in life. I’m increasingly grateful for those hours spent at the Manhattan Heights gym (which also served as a tai chi studio and a Christmas-decoration-making center) because as I get older, my muscle memories allow me to take on new physical activities without totally sucking at them, and without being in particularly good shape.

Nevertheless, the kind of body awareness I experienced last night largely involved being aware that Aloysia and Elizabeth (the other instructor) and Meagan (the star student) had beautiful, thin-yet-buff dancer bodies, while I had the body of someone whose art form involved a lot of sitting in a chair at Starbucks.

2. ladies who lunch and fly through the air

After last night’s class—and even with this morning’s sore shoulders and bruised calves—I’m trying to figure out how to run away and join the circus as much as a 31-year-old with a fulltime job can. I just signed up for a sort of pricey art class (this is what happens between drafts of the novel—my creative fantasies zigzag all over the place), so the circus may have to wait.

Sometimes I really wish I were a wealthy heiress who could devote all her time to dilettante-ish self-improvement projects. I would take Spanish, drawing, singing, trapeze, and host the occasional charity ball. Of course I would probably be kind of insufferable, but I would have lots of time for therapy to make me a better adjusted person.

If the art class gets canceled (enrollment is low)—which I hope it doesn’t—maybe I’ll try to do a little more trapezing. If not, I’ll just enjoy the fact that I got to live my Geek Love dreams for a day. Except for the part where they form a crazy amputation cult, because it’s helpful to have all your limbs when hanging upside down from a skinny little swing.

9 comments:

Claire said...

The trapeze class sounds very cool. Been so long I doubt I could swing myself up to hang by my knees. Curse you, lowered centered of gravity.

Someone I know in SF has been taking circus classes for about a year I think now. Took a good while but she loves how strong she's become.

Veronica said...

ohmygodyouaresomynewhero - please take me with you next time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura and the family said...

It sounds like a lot of fun by joining the Cirque school. I have also admired watching the shows, especially at Sea World during the summer.

In case you find a way to add your expenses to go to Cirque School, please be sure to have a picture of you (of course, it includes your front face) and holding a cup of Starbucks on the next post LOL

Jesi said...

yay! i'm not alone. i want to do everything but not really. i would much prefer to live a pretty muddled (my word of the week) life as in read, sleep, watch movies, eat, clean the toilet, etc. but alas i have a crazee muse who wants me to write, not just poems but movies and a musical. yeah, a musical, a david bowie-esque musical, where the main character is a girl but she's also telling the tale of david bowie's life, so lots of david bowie songs, and the climax of the musical is where she becomes he. so it's a musical that's about david bowie but not, about a girl who gets a sex change but not. yah, crazee! how bout we both runaway and join the cirus.

Jamie said...

Run away and join this circus? Ha! Lee-Roy just sent me this video. Is it coincidence... or destiny?
http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=6f2f28f3656a3e55c6bb0dbbc9ca44886191a51a

Cheryl said...

Claire: It would come back, I assure you. It would get very bruised in the process, though.

Veronica: You'd be such a pro! Yes, we must circus together!

Laura: I think I've already unintentionally mastered the art of latte-juggling (a Starbucks cup, a laptop, a book, a phone and a chainsaw, all in the air at the same time).

Jesi: How could I forget musical-writing? I sooo want to see your David Bowie tranny musical!

Jamie: I love Circus Amok! The bearded lady (a.k.a. Jennifer Miller) was one of my profs at CalArts. We hula-hooped in class.

Don Cummings said...

I believe the body propels the mind. This is great. I walk and I get things going. I imagine what you are doing is moving you into deep and unpredictable creative spaces. Faboo. Do it all... You're here.

Cheryl said...

I jogged this morning and I thought about the children's book I might want to work on in my art class...and about whether the dogs of Highland Park could clear various front-yard fences.

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Trapezing is SO overrated.... It's all about the tightrope, baby!